German Chancellor Angela Merkel is talking tough on migrants and crime as she sets out on the campaign trail for two state elections next month, giving a foretaste of her bid for a fourth term in September.
Merkel’s hardened rhetoric was on display in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, where her Christian Democratic Union is seeking to end seven years of Social Democratic rule on May 14. On Friday, she’s campaigning in Schleswig-Holstein near the Danish border, where two polls this week suggest her party has a slim lead over the SPD ahead of a regional vote on May 7.
At a CDU rally in the rural Westphalian town of Beverungen, Merkel reaffirmed her push to deport migrants who don’t qualify for asylum and attacked the state’s Social Democrat-led government as soft on crime. She said local officials “tried to sweep under the carpet” lapses in policing around mass sexual assaults on women in Cologne on New Year’s Eve in 2015, which stoked an anti-immigration backlash.